Before you drop school names, let us first comfirm list drivers : the factors that matter to you, and how important those factors are from 1-10 scale.
Brand: Are name, ranking and prestige important to you? how important?
Georgraphy: Do you prefer to attend college in east coast, west coast, southern states?
Temperature/Weather: Does climate matter. warm, cold, hot? any weather you want to eliminate?
Setting: Do you prefer schools in big city, small city, suburb or rural areas. Do you enjoy party or being alone. Do you like going around or stay at home. do you prefer to attend a school that do ot need a car or need a car?
Type of School: Do you like Reserach Universities or liberal arts colleges?
Curriculum: Do you mind schools require core curriculm? or you prefer open curriculum?
school size: Do you like small (<3000), medium (3000-15000) or big schools(>15000)?
Class size: some schools have big lecuture type class( >300), does that bother you? Do you prefer more small discussion typle class?
Major/academic interests( up to 3). You may already made up your mind on the major, you may have no clue. Even you are applying for “major undecided”, you should have some academic interests and vauge directions.
Sports facilities and opportunites: Any particular sports realted facilites and opportunities that are important to you?
Clubs and culture activites: Any particular clubs and culture actitives you want to engage yourself in?
International students %: you prefer high or low international students %? is studying aborad something you would consider?
Cost: What is your family budget for your college education? waht is the max. tution? total cost ceiling per year?
questions for feaml students: Is a woman college acceptable? or Co-ed is preferred?
After college plan: Will you prefer working after college or cotinuing to earn a master/PHD degree? For international student, do you plan to go back to your home country or prefer to stay in the US?
Alumni network: Will the school alumni network be important to you?
Other special factors: if other factors not listed here, but they are important to you, please write them down.
Please discuss these factors with your parents too and understand their preference. For example, students may not think brand name schools are importnat, but they may be important to their parents. Students may desire to attend a big public schools, parents may prefer their kids to attend a small liberal arts college. Understanding the difference upfront will allow the family to have the opportunity to discuss and exchange perspectives and find compromise.